Have to leave a bad review for a guest....it's hard

Couple who left my cabin smelling of smoke finally left me a review. So I felt compelled to review them. Of course, per Airbnb policy, neither of us can read the other until be both leave a review.
I had to be honest. took me three days to remove the smell. Whether it was from their belongings or if the smoker DID smoke in the tiny cabin, it didn’t matter. As bad as the car smelled when they arrived, it is slightly possible the stench came from all the stuff they hauled in. But I doubt it… Since I have never smoked, nor lived with a smoker, I can’t say for certain. And I cannot imagine that they don’t ‘realize’ the smell all their stuff must have, and what it leave…Regardless, I had to deal with the smell.
So…with a bit of reticence I gave a 4 star for ‘cleanliness’ as the cabin WAS nicely cleaned up (better than many, believe me) , communication was good, house rules I gave a 1. In my remarks I said that xxx and xxx were very nice, cordial, and left the cabin clean. However, there was a very strong cigarette odor in the cabin, either from belongings, or smoking, it was in spite of my strict rules about no smoking ANYWHERE on the property. In spite of my reiterating that in person when they arrived. I was saddened to have to do that, but felt hosts (and guests) need to be honest about the visit. I gave a thumbs down …
I was more saddened to read their review of my property and me. They could not have been more complimentary, both of the property, location, and of me as a host…Sigh…part of the business…but this one was hard…


Why was this a problem for you? Other hosts need to know about these guests so you’ve done us a favour. That’s a good thing. :slight_smile:


I get it. I’m the same, even after years of doing this. Particularly if they are newbies.

Personally, I rarely need to write bad reviews probably because I’m a live-in host so can tackle any bad behaviour or rule-breaking straightaway.

The only time I relish leaving a cold review is when the guests have been snooty and I just know they will leave a not so great one for me.


My review is always based on - do I want them back? If I don’t then why’ would someone else get a poor experience.


Because I sensed they were very happy with the property, and me and I knew they’d likely leave a complimentary review. And with two years and a gazillion guests, I’ve only left one other bad review but the guests were just intolerable and truly deserved it. When it’s split between something they’ve done wrong, very wrong in the smoking thing, and being really nice people, great guests IF it were not for that one thing, it’s hard for me to be critical. But as I said, it’s part of the business.
These people were very nice, so yes, it’s hard but I knew I had to for the sake of other hosts…And I have gone easy on other guests in the past who were not ‘bad’, just should have known better, or showed some disrespect to the property. so have decided to not let those things ‘slide’…I like the advice…if I don’t want to rehost, I owe it to another host to give a heads up why…Just wanted to share.


I think sometimes it’s a case of “these guests are suited to a different type of listing”, you know? I’ve had guests who annoyed me because they kind of took over my house - they didn’t actually do anything wrong or break any rules, they weren’t dirty or untidy or rude or anything. I just didn’t like them. They should have booked an entire property where they would have been exemplary guests. On those occasions I have said something like ‘Struggled with the concept of a shared space’.

Yeah, I’m a bit feeble :frowning: But I don’t like writing bad reviews unless the guest was really awful.


You can give no thumbs and Air still allows you to write the review. Anyone know what effect that would have on their rating?

My wife and I had new furniture delivered to our house. However, one of the delivery men had the most awful-smelling body odor, combined with his clothes reeking of cigarette smoke.

It took three days of running fans, open windows and lots of carpet freshener to finally mask the bad smell.

I did call the furniture store manager and asked that delivery man never return to our home.

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It’s not a case of ‘bad’ reviews, it’s just a case of being honest. What’s unacceptable to me (or to you or to another host) might be fine to you (or to another host) so all we’re doing is truthfully letting others know.

It doesn’t mean that the guest was ‘bad’ or that other hosts won’t accept them because we’re all, thankfully, different.

I read plenty of rants here by hosts and think ‘so what?’ But that’s just me. An honest review means that I can say ‘hey guest, I saw a review where the host said you didn’t take the rubbish out. Please make sure you do it here though - with our warm weather it’ll smell and attract beasties if you don’t. Thanks so much!’

Sometimes hosts can read between the lines. For example “guest checked out three hours late” doesn’t bother me because the host allowed it - I never let guests stay after check out time without my permission.

Noise, or being inconsiderate of the neighbours - those things are going to bother me immensely. I don’t want hosts to tell me that guests are better suited to a hotel or whatever because I wouldn’t presume to forecast what guests are like in other places.

Just honesty please.


I just declined an inquiry where they promised the husband would smoke outside, referring to my listing which says no smoking anywhere on the property. On the one hand, it was honest of them to ask, on the other I know from experience that “smoking outside” can easily turn into “smoking with the window or door open,” and I never want to be up until 3 a.m. again, washing every fabric and wall surface to get rid of smoke stench. That’s why I stopped allowing smoking outside. I know, Jacquo, not my circus, not my monkeys if they can’t find a place to stay. but I still felt a little bad.


and I guess that’s why I was a bit hesitant…I had no proof they actually smoked in the cabin. But as another host here mentioned on my earlier topic , if their car reeked (and when the driver opened the door, it near bowled me over!), then it’s unlikely they could go two days here without smoking somewhere.
But I know what you mean, it seems that odor follows smoker people (and they MUST know it, and the consequences of inhabiting a no smoking property) and infects everything. Hence I went ahead and didn’t accuse anyone of actually smoking, just that they left the terrible odor in the cabin…still made me wince to read their glowing review, and I did publically thank them for their visit and for their kind words. However, I did NOT say, as I usually do, hope you come back soon!


I get what you’re saying but the reality for live-in hosts is that it’s often hard to leave a critical public review for someone who has shared your home and maybe you shared a drink and a chat and that was a perfectly nice guest but… they had chronic BO, for example. Sorry, but there is no way I am going to publicly shame that person. I just couldn’t do it.
Or that they didn’t “get” the recycling thing because their English was limited.

I don’t know. As I’m writing this I’m thinking logically that you’re actually right!! I just do understand where the OP is coming from - those guests might have no idea that they stink and all their possessions stink. But they do now. It’s harsh.

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Surely saying guests are better for an hotel isn’t about forecasting what they would be like elsewhere. It’s perhaps saying they need more staff, more resources, and a bigger profit margin, not a lone host with more skin in the game. Guests need to be more responsible, considerate and low maintenance if they’re paying less or in a more personal environment.


That’s the point - which? Or which out of the many other services hotels offer that many hosts don’t? When a review says ‘better suited to a hotel’ I have no idea what that means. If hosts were honest in their reviews and said why, then future hosts can work with them accordingly.

I’ve seen ‘suited to a hotel’ mean that the guests wanted advice on where to go and what to see (concierge), that they left the sheets in a not-great condition (hotel staff don’t like dealing with it any more than we do), that they didn’t come in until midnight (some hosts don’t want that), that they took over the kitchen (although the host allowed it at the time) and many more. ‘Suited to a hotel’ really doesn’t tell me, or other future hosts, what we want to know.


While I understand and do look at the individuals reviews we need to understand that we should be reviewing the guest on premises on how they acted and left the property not on what we want further hosts to know. If we write the review honestly and host should be able to judge whether they would be a good fit for their property. I never use “maybe better at a hotel” I do write, this guest would be best in a location that fit his needs better. There are only a few instances I have said “I would not recommend this guest” they had a party in my home, they trashed the home or there is theft. While I do state if they break my major rules, extra guests, smoking in the home etc. I do not give a recommendation either way but state the facts honestly and w/o emotion.

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I don’t like this phrase either but… it does tell me that this is not a respectful guest in a homeshare situation.

The thing is, what exactly DO you want to know as a host? You do IB so you’re taking mostly everyone and anyone, like I do.

I’m not sure any more what use reviews are, to be honest.
I’m big enough and tough enough to manage my place, frankly, and I’ve seen enough shitty and crazy reviews from hosts to be very cautious about judging. Just take a look at the airbnb community forum - it’s full of people who think their places are so great that guests should faint on arrival. And they throw an absolute fit if anyone gives them less than 5* for everything.

It’s ridiculous. And we shouldn’t pander to it. The vast majority of guests are fine. We only need to warn about the really bad ones. We don’t need to publicly air the fact they left stains on the sheets or bitch about they put the trash in the wrong bin.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been doing this too long.


I agree. And maybe that’s why I don’t pay much attention to guests’ reviews - and why I think it would be helpful for everyone if they were honest.

Because I’m not in a home-sharing situation (I live right next door to one rental and directly opposite the other) I imagine that I’m a lot more tolerant about a lot of things. So if I see a review saying ‘not recommended. Better suited to a hotel’ from a home-sharing host then it tells me nothing at all.

‘Not recommended because…’ gives me three options:

  1. The problem mentioned doesn’t bother me (guests didn’t take the trash out for example)
  2. I can mention it to the guest and tell them not to do it (whatever it was) here
  3. It’s not relevant because it’s referring to something I don’t allow (guest was three hours late checking out)

Knowing the ‘problems’ means that I know how to deal with it in advance.

Yeah, maybe I’ve been doing this for too long too or maybe I just expect too much :wink:

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To an average homestay host it doesn’t matter whether it’s extra time, space, goodwill or costs the guest is taking more of. They’re all things an average homestay host doesn’t want to entertain. If I read more suited to an hotel I would instantly know what was meant. The guest had an entitled attitude and did not respect boundaries in someone else’s home and was most likely not personable.
More suited to an hotel is not a phrase I would even have to use often but I understand why some hosts would want to sometimes. Over the years I have had 2 or 3 people with such extreme body odour the room was very difficult to clean afterwards. That’s not something a host could put in a review. Hosts seem to find it hard enough to write anything negative in a review which puts other hosts in danger. Letting them off using a euphemism seems a fair compromise. Anyway you can always message a fellow host if you’re unsure, that saved my bacon on one occasion.

That’s the point though - the difference between homestay and other rentals. I’ve had many guests who have stayed in homestay situations previously but decided that they prefer the freedom of renting a full place.

The needs of hosts regarding reviews are completely different for different hosting styles.

Guests with body odour is something I suspect we’ve all had to cope with whether we host in our homes or in separate places. Being stinky isn’t necessarily a permanent condition. Sometimes it’s caused by medical conditions that can be sorted out with medical intervention. It’s not necessarily a reason to banish people to hotels for evermore.

Not suitable for homestay is another issue.


Not me. This is a sort of ‘catch all’ phrase that represents the host’s perspective on some perceived slight, but rarely conveys any meaningful information to me.

My space is actually described by me as my ‘take’ on a hotel experience - I do not expect guests to interact with me or tell me their plans, and I prefer guests who do not need to ask me much. Hosts who want these things often review these guests as ‘better suited to a hotel’ -but they also say the same thing when the guests expect to be left alone despite the host’s needs.

The hosts who obsess with check in times and get crazed when a flight is delayed and give negative reviews to guests but only use the catchall phrase does not let me see that the guest is actually an excellent one FOR ME (I prefer late check ins). “Better suited to a hotel” many times is used disparagingly, when for me that means a preferred guest. But who can tell if the host who wrote the review said that because the guest left a towel on the floor, did not appreciate a chocolate on the pillow, or had a party? Big differences.

The only thing worse than the catchall phrase is the host who ‘hates to leave a bad review (tell the truth)’ and does not review accurately. ‘The guest was having a bad day’ is NOT a reason to give a good review - after all, the guest’s performance when their emotions are triggered is something to warn hosts about - this could happen again of course, but also because their behavior in your home is real.

Disobeyed house rules? Important - but what rule? I need to know that info to decide if it applies to me. Noisy guest? What hours? Complaining guest? What did they complain about…